The Food Stamp Program: Its History and Reform

By Allen, Jodie T. | Public Welfare, Winter 1993 | Go to article overview

The Food Stamp Program: Its History and Reform


Allen, Jodie T., Public Welfare


Jodie T. Allen was senior vice president of Mathematica Policy Research, a national research and development firm, when this article was published in the summer of 1977.

Sometime this summer, perhaps even before this is published, the "food stamp question" will be given at least a temporary answer by the enactment or failure of enactment of legislation to extend the life of the program beyond its scheduled expiration on September 30,177. Whatever the legislative outcome, it will be the product of a stormy debate that has raged on and off for almost three years. [Editor's note: The legislation was enacted.]

It was not always this way, of course. For years, the food stamp program enjoyed a relatively charmed existence nurtured carefully by a relatively small group of nutrition-minded liberals m the Congress and tolerated by their normally conservative-minded colleagues. After all, you cannot be against feeding the poor. What changed all this was simple. The food stamp program suddenly grew up and, in the process, drew to itself the public and congressional concern that in previous years had been directed to the cash welfare programs during their period of maximum growth.

rood stamp costs and caseloads experienced their sharpest rates of growth during 1974 and the first half of 1975, a period float saw both mandatory nationwide implementation of the program and rapidly rising rates of unemployment. At the end of 1973, 12.7 million persons were receiving food stamps, with a monthly bonus value of $193 million, or about $2.3 billion a year. By April 1975, participants had increased by 54 percent to 19.5 million, and annual program costs had risen by 139 percent to over $5 billion annually.

Public and congressional concern over this precipitous growth was sharpened by various expert estimates that even with almost twenty million participants, the program had only begun to tap the reservoir of potential eligibles, currently estimated to be over thirty million.

Friends and Foes

The debate over the program as it now exists cuts across the classic liberal-conservative barricades. Proponents of food stamps include conservatives who like the fact that the recipients must pay something for the stamps and the fact that relief in the form of stamps assures that public benefits are not used to buy cars or color television sets. There are those among the friends of the program who contend that the built-in food purchase requirement is a protection for the poor against their own weak budgeting habits. Others on both sides of the liberal-conservative fence argue that food stamps ate less of a social stigma than cash welfare and, hence, are more acceptable to certain classes of the poor, particularly the aged.

The program's conservative critics consider it inefficient because it requires another layer in the public assistance bureaucracy and because "funny money'' is difficult to issue, distribute, and redeem. More liberal critics argue that food stamps limit the choices of the recipients as to how to allocate their expenditures to meet their needs, and counter proponent's arguments of a lessened stigma by noting that food stamps are a highly identifiable form of public assistance.

At high levels of the previous administration, views also differed--no one liked the program, but for different reasons. President Ford proposed in January 1975 to raise the price of stamps as a budget-cutting measure, thus fueling the current debate. Many in the Office of Management and Budget and in HEW [the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare] saw (and still see) the program as an impediment to welfare reform, particularly if large numbers of middle-income person, unlikely beneficiaries of any cash welfare program, come to participate. To Treasury Secretary [William E.] Simon, the program was a "haven for the cheats and tip-off artists."

At lower levels of the bureaucracy and among many in the Congress, the program received kinder attention. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Food Stamp Program: Its History and Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.